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Childhood inactivity prevention strategies needed

A University of Leicester study of over 3,500 pupils from five inner city schools in Leicester showed that physical inactivity has reached epidemic levels.

Only half the children surveyed walked to school and a similar number spent four or more hours every day watching television, videos or playing games.

Children with a family history of diabetes or heart disease were just as likely to be as physically inactive as children without such a family history.

"Metabolic abnormalities precede the development of diabetes by some years and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in children often persist into adulthood" says study author Kamlesh Khunti (University of Leicester, UK).

"The need to implement prevention strategies for childhood obesity is therefore a major target for the government and healthcare professionals."

The authors note that children of South Asian descent were more likely than white children to be physically inactive.

They say this is alarming as South Asian children also have a higher than average risk of cardiovascular disease and premature coronary heart disease.

Khunti concludes: "Parent, schools and community health providers need to address the results of these findings to reduce their future risks of developing diabetes and heart disease in children."

University of Leicester